It was my first time, the first time I attended a big event like Sella Ronda bike day, which was instead at its 15th edition. From 8.30 in the morning until 3.30 pm the circuit was barred to traffic, only cyclists could go through and enjoy the Sella circuit without suffering the smelly exhaust gases and the constant sound of car engines.
The opportunity to ride among the Dolomites’ landscapes of some of the most famous cycling passes was an opportunity not to be missed, even if this type of gathering is not usually what I love to do. I’m always afraid that too many people can make the day less pleasant than a solo ride. I’m always afraid that too many people can make the day less pleasant than a solo ride, I was scared about the idea that too many competitive cyclists together would have ridden fast and overtaken endangering others. On the contrary, I must say that being many wasn’t a disadvantage, but a great advantage instead. The energy of the group, the people I met along the way, the bicycles of others, all to be admired in their diversity.
But let’s talk about our adventure to discover the Dolomites. With two friends (Andrea and Angela) we left on Friday arriving by train at Mezzocorona (meaning “half-crown”), a train station shortly after Trento, of which we didn’t know anything about, but we liked the name and so we decided to start from there. The first day of our tour has been planned to be the easiest since we managed to reach our starting point only at 1.30pm. We rode towards Bolzano, following at first the wine route across the territory of Traminer grape, a wine grape variety, used in white wines, known as Gewürztraminer, and then after having passed the Caldaro Lake though a cycleway that immersed itself into the wooded area of Monticolo. In less than 4 hours including a stop, we made to eat our first Apple Strudel of the tour, we reached Bolzano, which always deserves a bit of time to be explored with its Bavarian spirit and heritage.
We had an early night in Bolzano and a long dispute about what street to take to go to Campitello di Fassa the day after. There are many ways to go to Fassa valley from Bolzano, but we also wanted to see the Careza lake (Karersee) in ‘Ega valley, to put all together in one day and following the suggestions we could get and the altimetry we could guess, we decided for a road that took us up to Collepietra and then to Carezza lake just before passing over Costalunga pass. The second day of our adventure towards Sellaronda ended up to be quite a remarkable day, with 2000 meters of difference in height climbed in a hot day with our bicycle loaded for the weekend. Besides the fatigue and the stiff climb from Prato all’Isarco to Collepietra with more than 16 hairpin bends, we had the opportunity to see just there in front of us the massif of Rosengarten. That was just the first marvel of the day, just before the pause we had at the shore of the blue and green Karensee and the easy ride that thought Fassa valley cycle lane took us to our destination. Cycling always allows us to get in touch with nature, in relation to the landscapes that for a long time accompany us especially uphill, when fatigue is satisfied by beauty.
All hotels in Campitello di Fassa seem of a certain level. With their wooden constructions typical of the mountain design and the services like sauna, swimming pool and gym adverted everywhere. Our location for the weekend was one of them, the Garni Aritz Hotel with a very nice room and an amazing breakfast, perfect to have a good night’s sleep and enough energy for the cycling day. On Sunday morning we were very excited, after our huge breakfast with cakes and fruit we were ready to go. The air was still fresh and the thrilling atmosphere was already there, the main road was full of bicycles and on the sides, only cars were unloading bicycles.
For the Sella Ronda Bike Day, we gathered in Campitello with other friends from Bologna: Cristiano, Eva, and Lucia. It has been nearly incredible how easy was to find ourselves every now and again from the start to the arrival, every peak we managed to regroup and take a picture together, as you can see in the video linked above. I’ve also had the chance of meeting a small group from Piedmont, we met every now and again along the route, it was hard to believe given the crowd of cyclists, but nice so we exchanged contacts to keep in touch!
The first pass to climb from our side was “Passo Pordoi”, 12km with an average gradient of 6.7%, a pleasant first climb that took us on a crowded peak. I felt good and the climb was easy, so I reached the top without any fatigue and I managed to get a picture at the monument of Fausto Coppi. Clouds were covering the sky and the sun, the long descent that brought us to Arabba was quite cold, but soon from that crossroad, we were climbing again towards “Passo Campolongo”, a short and stiff climb that in 4km with an average gradient of 8% took us to the peak. In the meantime, the sun came out and we had a chance to get warmer.
We stopped for a coffee and we took some time to chat about the experience, how easy was to get lost among others, but how good we had been finding each other among the crowd. Like in a marathon, the fact that we were climbing with so many others, all in the same direction, made the effort easier to bear. The wheels turned whilst the mountains showed their massive character that imposed itself on our path. The beauty of the Dolomites, with rocky profiles and high peaks. The third pass was “Passo Gardena”, 9,3km with an average gradient of 6,2% that seems to take us right to the rocky mountain above, one of the most beautiful views of the Sella massive. It was curious to discover that the pass had different names, in fact, it is renamed in different languages Jëuf de Frea and Grödner Joch. Last but not least, an easy and fast descent to Plan del Gralba to reach the last climb of “Passo Sella”, 6,5 km with an average gradient of 8,2%. The way up seemed shorter than I imagined, I thought it would become long and arduous due to tired legs, but instead thanks to the cyclists around, the chat with them, and the unique views, it all seemed easier.
With my friend, we shared joyful giggling at the end of the tour when we gathered again exactly where we had started in Canazei, we stopped at the first bar, happy to have completed our ride and ready for the usual treatment at the end of a cycling day: a beer, a hot shower, and a generous dinner. That evening we went to Ristorante pizzeria Agnello and I should say it did meet our expectations, the menu was full of local receipts, the food was good with large portions.
On the next morning, we woke up at 7 o’clock, for an early start, after breakfast, we packed our stuff and we were ready to ride, this time downhill! Our route would have taken us back to the train station at Rovereto. We had the chance to enjoy part of the cycling route of Fassa Valley which is very relaxing and equipped with water fountains and facilities like bars and information points. After a while however, we moved to the road of Cembra Valley to see The Pyramids of Segonzano, a natural heart sculpture created by the erosive action of the Alviso glaciers. The day was hot and we keep cycling in good spirit along the cycling route of the Adige, another route that you must ride if you plan a trip in this area, but better if it is spring or autumn, in summer it is a long boiling (without shading) route.
TOTAL BUDGET 3 DAYS ALL-INCLUSIVE: 175 euro